Champions League - Copenhagen frustrate Barca

Tue, 02 Nov 21:45:00 2010

FC Copenhagen held on for a precious 1-1 draw against Barcelona in their Champions League Group D clash at Parken.

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Barcelona deserved their lead on 31 minutes when Lionel Messi latched onto a loose ball in the box to fire home from close range.

But barely a minute into the second half, Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes failed to hold on to a routine cross, allowing Brazilian midfielder Claudemir to hook the ball into an empty net.

In a second half which saw chances fall to both sides, Pedro came closest to clinching victory for the Catalan club in the dying seconds, when he expertly cut inside from the left, before unleashing a rasping right-footed effort against the inside of the far post.

Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol were, at times, stretched by Jesper Gronkjaer's intelligent runs outwide, with Claudemir's smart passing exploiting gaps in midfield to put Barcelona's defensive pairing on the back foot.

But the initial waves of Copenhagen attacks receded as Barcelona found their feet.

Andres Iniesta and David Villa grew in influence as the half went on, and it was no surprise to see them both involved in Barcelona's opener.

Seydou Keita, who was lively throughout, cushioned a header into the path of Villa in the box and, although Mathias Jorgensen did a decent job of hooking the ball away from Villa, his clearance only found Messi, who took a touch before firing in from close range.

The goal had been coming, but it was galling to see it scored by Messi, whom the Copenhagen back line had kept quiet for much of the first 30 minutes, in no small part to William Kvist, who was superb in his holding role all night.

But the Danish side, motivated by the coruscating atmosphere in the stadium, refused to retreat to lick their wounds, and hit back within a minute of the restart.

Daniel Alves, so assured in attacking positions, was caught too high up the pitch, as Gronkjaer nipped past him. The former Chelsea winger dinked a routine ball into the box which Valdes flapped at rather than caught or punched clear, leaving Claudemir to hook the ball back across the face of goal and just inside the far post.

Alves was lucky not to see red for kicking out at Ozcar Wendt after being cynically blocked off by the Dane, feeling aggrieved at the manner of the body-check. Had that moment of petulance been witnessed by the officials, Alves would surely have been walking towards the tunnel.

The second half was tit-for-tat, with both sides showing a willingness to go in search of the win. Iniesta came close for Barcelona when his shot, after a jinking run from the left, was saved by the excellent Johan Wiland in the Copenhagen goal.

The home side's best opportunity fell to N'Doye, whose header found the back of the net, but the Senegalese striker was penalised for pushing Eric Abidal in the back as he leapt above the Frenchman.

Pedro perhaps deserved a goal for his masterful technique in both crafting the space to shoot, then executing a sensational shot which would have been deserving of the match-winner.

But Copenhagen held on after a resolute display and, with seven points from four games, the Danes are now on course to progress to the knockout round.

Copenhagen deserved the point, if only for their unwavering resilience throughout, and the Danish side remain within a point of the Spanish giants in second spot after Rubin Kazan's goalless draw with Panathinaikos.

Michael Da Silva / Eurosport

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